WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Edwin Diaz’s season, in his mind at least, began Saturday.
After throwing three live batting practice sessions earlier in camp, the Mets closer took the mound in an exhibition game for the first time and fired a perfect third inning in a 6-1 victory over the Astros. The game was shortened to six innings by rain.
“I’m taking this game pretty much as the start of the regular season,” Diaz said through an interpreter. “Right now my mentality is this is a regular season game.”
Upon reporting to spring training, Diaz informed manager Luis Rojas he wasn’t coming to get ready for the season. The preparation had occurred at home in Puerto Rico over the winter.
“He was ready when he got here,” Rojas said. “He was proud of himself.”
Rojas liked what he saw Saturday.
“He attacked,” the manager said.
Diaz said he meshed with catcher James McCann in their first game together.
“I trust him a lot because he studies the hitters a lot,” Diaz said. “I feel he knows these hitters better than I do. He has great hands behind the plate and he knows how to receive pitches.”
Rojas said his pitchers are excited about the prospect of hitting this season, but the manager admitted he would be more comfortable with a DH implemented.
“They want to swing the bat,” Rojas said, referring to his pitchers. “I still think it would be ideal to have the DH. It’s nothing that is happening, so I don’t want to spend too much time on it, but it will help just for the guys to focus on their pitching and not do anything else.”
The Mets won’t get serious about hitting and baserunning drills for pitchers until after March 14, when exhibition games start implementing rules that will be used during the season. The early games have included the DH.
“I know we have still got to talk about it, but [the pitchers] have done it and we talked about base running,” Rojas said. “But as far as swinging the bat and taking full hacks, we haven’t done that yet.”
The Mets’ starting rotation for the next three games: Marcus Stroman, Jordan Yamamoto and Taijuan Walker, who will be making his Grapefruit League debut on Tuesday. Still unclear is when Carlos Carrasco, who was late beginning workouts this spring, will pitch for the first time.